Women's Basketball Visits Loyola in Pre-Thanksgiving Showdown Tuesday Evening

Junior Kim Browning
Junior Kim Browning

BALTIMORE--The UMBC women's basketball team looks to return to its winning ways Tuesday evening when it visits cross-town rival Loyola. Tip-off at Reitz Arena is set for 7 p.m.

RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC is coming off a 70-59 loss to No. 9 Maryland on Saturday. Seniors Erin Brown andMichelle Kurowski each scored 14 points in the game. The Retrievers kept the game close throughout, trailing by just four points midway through the second half, and the 11-point margin was the lowest for the Terps this season. Kurowski is the 11th Retriever ever with 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in her career, and she ranks fifth all-time at UMBC with 1,313 career points, the most among active players in the America East. UMBC leads the league with a .432 field goal percentage and ranks second in scoring, averaging 64.8 ppg this season. The Retrievers are the only team in the conference with four players averaging double figures on the season. UMBC is the preseason favorite to win the America East Conference after winning the 2011 regular-season title with a 13-3 record in league play. The Retrievers posted a 20-12 overall mark, matching the school record for victories in a season, and earned a berth in the WNIT after falling to Hartford in the conference semifinals.

GREYHOUND UPDATE: Loyola is coming off an 65-59 loss at Pittsburgh on Friday to fall to 1-2 on the season. Freshman guard Kara Marshall led the Greyhounds with 19 points, while guard Miriam McKenzie had 16 points and seven rebounds. McKenzie is Loyola's leading scorer with 14.3 ppg this season, while Marshall was named Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Rookie of the Week on Monday. The Greyhounds, who are averaging just 49.0 ppg this season, were picked to finishe second in the MAAC preseason poll after falling in the league title game last season and earning a berth in the WNIT, and McKenzie and guardKatie Sheahin were both selected to the preseason all-conference team. Sheahin is the reigning MAAC Defensive Player of the Year.

WHO'S UP NEXT: The Retrievers visit cross-town rival Towson on Sunday at 2 p.m. The Retrievers are 14-31 all-time against the Tigers, who are 2-1 on the season and host Mount St. Mary's on Tuesday, but the Retrievers have won the last three meetings. Towson was picked to finish 11th in the Colonial Athletic Association preseason poll.

Inside the Series...

Tuesday's game marks the 35th all-time meeting between UMBC and Loyola, and the Greyhounds hold a 21-13 series advantage. The Retrievers won the first four meetings between the two teams, but the Greyhounds took the next nine. UMBC then won six in a row and seven of eight before Loyola won nine straight. The Retrievers ended that streak in 2006 with a last-second victory at the RAC Arena, but the Greyhounds then won another three in a row before last season's UMBC victory. UMBC is 5-9 all-time on Loyola's home court. Loyola is UMBC's third most-frequent opponent behind Towson and Mount St. Mary's.

In the last meeting between the two teams, Dec. 29, 2010, the Retrievers defeated the Greyhounds, 60-57, at the RAC. UMBC guard Michelle Kurowski led four Retrievers in double figures with 18 points, while forward Erin Brown tallied 16 points. Loyola guardMiriam McKenzie led the Greyhounds with 18 points, while guard Katie Sheahin scored 15. Kurowski has averaged 17.3 ppg and 8.0 rpg in three career games against Loyola.

News And Notes...

For Starters: UMBC is 2-2 for the third time in four years after winning the first two games of the season for the first time since 2005.

PLAYING FAVORITES: The Retrievers were chosen as the 2011-12 America East preseason favorites by the league's head coaches. The Retrievers received five first-place votes and 60 total points to edge Boston University. Prior to this season, UMBC had never been picked higher than fifth (2008-09, 2010-11).

It Takes Two: Senior guards Michelle Kurowski and Erin Brown were selected to the America East preseason all-conference team by the league's nine head coaches. The duo represented the highest-scoring tandem in the America East last season, as each ranked in the top five in the league with 14.6 and 14.3 points per game, respectively, and both earned first-team all-conference honors.

Against the Best: UMBC's non-conference schedule features games against seven teams that advanced to the 2011 postseason, including four of its first five opponents. Of the seven, Maryland, Princeton, Hampton and Navy earned berths in the NCAA Tournament, while Morgan State, Monmouth and Loyola played in the WNIT. So far, UMBC is 2-1 against those teams following victories over Morgan State and Monmouth and a loss to Maryland.

Join the Club: Senior guard Michelle Kurowski recorded her 500th career rebound in the season opener against Morgan State, making her the 11th Retriever ever with 1,000 points and 500 rebounds. Kurowski currently ranks fifth all-time at UMBC with 1,313 career points and 15th with 511 rebounds. Senior forward Erin Brown is on pace to join Kurowski in all three clubs later this month, as she is 30 points shy of 1,000 and two rebounds shy of 500.

Home Sweet Home: UMBC saw its school-record 12-game home-court winning streak snapped on Saturday by No. 9 Maryland. The streak had dated to Dec. 4, 2010. However, the Retrievers have won 16 of their last 18 home games since Feb. 7, 2010, and they went 12-1 at the RAC last season, a new school Division I record for home wins.

So Close You could Taste It: UMBC gave No. 9 Maryland all it could handle in a 70-59 loss on Saturday. Each time the Terps appeared to pull away, the Retrievers made a run to get right back into the game and trailed by just four midway through the second half.

TALE OF TWO HALVES: UMBC looked like two different teams in each half against Coppin State on Wednesday. In the first half, the Retrievers made only six of 21 field goal attempts (28.6 percent) and trailed the Eagles, 33-14, at halftime. But UMBC came to life in the second period, shooting 46.9 percent from the floor (15-for-32) and outscoring the hosts, 46-35. The Retrievers cut their deficit to as few as four points but could not complete the comeback, falling 68-60.

HONOR ROLL: Freshman point guard Lauren Chase earned the season's first America East Rookie of the Week Award on Monday after averaging 11.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and a league-best 7.0 assists while shooting 50 percent from the floor in the first two games of the season. She is the first Retriever to earn America East Rookie of the Week honors sinceMichelle Kurowski on March 2, 2009.

DOUBLE-DOUBLE VISION: Three Retrievers recorded double-doubles at Monmouth last Sunday, led by senior center Topé Obajolu (20 points, 10 rebounds) and senior forward Erin Brown (18 points, 11 rebounds), while freshman point guard Lauren Chase finished one rebound shy of a triple-double with 10 points, 11 assists and nine boards. The last time even two Retrievers tallied double-doubles in the same game was Nov. 15, 2009, against UMES, when Michelle Kurowski and Meghan Colabella each accomplished the feat.

HELPING HAND: Freshman poing guard Lauren Chase set a Retriever rookie record with 11 assists at Monmouth last Sunday, tied for the fifth-most ever by a Retriever in a single game and the most since Brittnie Hughes had 12 on Dec. 29, 2006. In addition, it was the first time a UMBC player recorded double digits in assists since Michele Brokans had 10 on Jan. 24, 2009. Chase leads the America East with 6.0 assists per game so far this season.

Balanced Attack: Four Retrievers scored in double figures in the season opener agaisnt Morgan State. In her UMBC debut, junior guard Brittany Crowell scored a game-high 15 points off the bench, while senior forward Erin Brown notched a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Senior guard Michelle Kurowski added 13 points, while freshman point guard Lauren Chase chipped in 12 points in her collegiate debut.

Double Your Pleasure: Eight Retrievers have scored in double figures at least once in their careers, led by senior guard Michelle Kurowski, who has reached double digits in 64 of her 96 career games, including a career-best eight straight from Dec. 21, 2010-Jan. 20, 2011. In addition, senior forward Erin Brown is currently riding a 13-game double-figure streak which dates to Feb. 5 against Maine.

WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS: UMBC claimed its first-ever America East regular-season title on Feb. 23 when it defeated Albany, 62-55. The Retrievers took the league by surprise, posting a 13-3 record with 10 wins in their last 11 regular-season games after being picked to finish fifth in the preseason poll. As the top seed in the America East Championship, the Retrievers automatically qualified for a berth in the WNIT when they dropped a 66-48 decision in the conference semifinals to fourth-seeded and host Hartford, the eventual conference champion.

Setting the Mark: UMBC's 20 wins in 2010-11 matched the school record, which was set by the 1985-86 squad, and were the most in the program's 25-year Division I history. The Retrievers were hot over the last three months of the season with 19 wins in their last 26 contests after starting the year 1-5. Prior to last season, UMBC had not finished above .500 since 2005-06, when it went 15-13. In addition, the Retrievers' 13 America East victories were their most ever in their eight seasons in the league; prior to last season, UMBC had not won more than seven America East contests (7-9 in 2006 and 2010) or finished higher than tied for fourth (2010).

All-Conference Trio: UMBC guards Michelle Kurowski and Erin Brown were both selected to the America East All-Conference First Team last season, while center Topé Obajolu was tabbed to the Third Team. Kurowski and Brown gave the Retrievers two players on the America East first team for the first time ever; Carlee Cassidy in 2008 is the only other Retriever ever to earn first-team honors in the America East. In addition, with Obajolu's inclusion on the third team, UMBC placed three players on all-conference squads for the first time in its eight seasons in the America East. Obajolu was also voted to the All-Defensive team, the first Retriever to earn that honor since Sharri Rohde in 2007 and just the second UMBC player ever.

Coach of the Year: UMBC head coach Phil Stern was named America East Coach of the Year in a vote of the league's nine head coaches. Stern guided the Retrievers, who were picked to finish fifth in the America East preseason poll, to their first-ever America East regular-season title. Stern oversaw a +6 turnaround from 2009-10, when the Retrievers posted a 13-17 overall record and 7-9 league mark. Stern is the first UMBC women's basketball coach to be named Coach of the Year since Kathy Solano in 1994 in the Big South. In addition, while it was his first Coach of the Year honor at the Division I level, Stern garnered the accolade twice in the Division II Peach Belt Conference while at USC Aiken (2000, 2002).

Head of the Class: Senior guard Michelle Kurowski was recently named one of 30 candidates nationwhide for the prestigious Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, which recognizes senior student-athletes who exemplify excellence in the four C's of community, classroom, character and competition. The award is just another in Kurowski's long list of accolades, which include America East Women's Basketball Scholar-Athlete, Capital One Academic All-District First Team and Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association Scholar-Athlete Team. Kurowski graduated Magna Cum Laude from UMBC in May, maintaining a 3.82 GPA as a psychology major, and is currently competing as a graduate student while pursuing a teaching certificate and a master's degree in early childhood education.

Making the Grade: UMBC was recognized on the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Academic Top 25 for the second year in a row, ranking 20th among NCAA Division I programs during the 2010-11 academic year with a 3.374 team grade-point average. In addition, the America East recognized 10 of UMBC's 13 women's basketball student-athletes on the league's academic honor roll for earning a GPA of 3.0 or better during the spring semester, with eight team members garnering commissioner's honor roll status for a GPA of 3.5 or higher. In 2009-10, the Retrievers' 3.578 team GPA was the third-best in the nation.

Bragging Rights: UMBC will take on seven of the other eight Division I schools in the state of Maryland in 2010-11, facing five in the first six games of the season. The Retrievers will host Morgan State (Nov. 11), Maryland (Nov. 19) and UMES (Dec. 6) and will travel to Coppin State (Nov. 16), Loyola (Nov. 22), Towson (Nov. 27) and Navy (Dec. 20). After going 4-2 against its in-state rivals last season, UMBC is 1-2 so far this season, defeating Morgan State and falling to Coppin State and Maryland. The Retrievers are 77-126 all-time against the other eight Division I schools in the state.

In the Polls: The Retrievers are ranked 15th in the most recent CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25. The position is a six-spot improvement from the Retrievers' preseason ranking of 21st and represents the greatest jump of any team in the poll. Two of UMBC's opponents - Princeton (No. 3) and Hampton (No. 9) - are also ranked in the poll, while Hartford, Boston University and High Point are also receiving votes.

Against the MAAC: UMBC is 24-32 all-time against current Metro Atlantic Athletic Association opponents. The Retrievers have a winning record against Rider (6-2), with the most wins (13) and losses (21) coming against cross-town rival Loyola. UMBC has never faced Manhattan, Marist or St. Peter's, and the Retrievers have never beaten Fairfield.

Welcome Home: Former Retriever standout Kristin Drabyn returned to her alma mater as an assistant coach this offseason. Drabyn was a four-year letterwinner from 2004-08, helping to lead the Retrievers to the 2007 America East title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. She is UMBC's career record-holder in free throw percentage (.887) and currently ranks second all-time in 3-pointers made (168) and third in 3-point percentage (.348). Drabyn was named to the America East All-Conference Third Team as a senior in 2008.

Block Party: Center Topé Obajolu set a new school record for blocks in a season with 56 in 2010-11; Monica Logan's previous mark of 47 had stood since 1996-97. Obajolu became the fifth Retriever ever to record 100 career blocks on Jan. 23 against New Hampshire, and she now has 121, which ranks third. She led the America East with 1.8 blocks per game last season. Obajolu set a school record with seven blocks against Coppin State on Nov. 16. The previous mark of six was achieved three times.

Special K: Senior guard Michelle Kurowski is the America East's active career scoring leader with 1,313 points, which ranks 46th all-time in conference history. She ranked second in the America East with 14.6 points per game last season. Kurowski has averaged 13.7 points per game in her career, the third-best career scoring average in school history, and she has ranked in the top 10 in the America East in scoring each of her first three seasons, the first player to do so since Vermont's Courtnay Pilypaitis in 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09.

Charity Case: Guard Michelle Kurowski led the America East in free throw percentage for the second year in a row in 2010-11, and her .894 clip from the foul line was a UMBC record and ranked sixth in the NCAA. Kurowski ranks second all-time at UMBC to current assistant coach Kristin Drabyn with a career .846 mark at the charity stripe. As a team, UMBC led the America East with a .735 free throw percentage, as well.

Raining Three's: Senior guards Michelle Kurowski and Erin Brown are the eighth and ninth Retrievers ever to sink 100 career 3-pointers. They are just the second-ever set of Retriever teammates with 100 three-pointers apiece and the first since Shalayna Johnson and Jessie Brown in 2002-03.

Tenacious D: UMBC ranked second in the America East and 16th in the NCAA in field goal percentage defense last season, holding opponents to a .352 clip, and also ranked second in the league and 33rd in the country in scoring defense, allowing 56.0 ppg. Opponents shot less than 40 percent against UMBC in 25 of 32 contests last season, including less than 30 percent seven times.

Three's Company: UMBC has made at least one 3-pointer in 55 straight games dating to Dec. 28, 2009, against East Carolina. The Retrievers' 140-game streak, which had dated to Feb. 5, 2005, was snapped the previous game, Dec. 22, at West Virginia, when they went 0-for-10 from long distance.

Follow the Retrievers: UMBC fans can now keep up with their favorite teams in a number of ways, as UMBC Athletics is on social media sites Twitter (@UMBCAthletics)Facebookand YouTube. Fans can also follow head coach Phil Stern on Twitter (@UMBCwbb), and the team can also be found on Facebook.

Retrievers All-Access: All of the Retrievers' home games will be video streamed live through UMBC's multimedia website, UMBCRetrievers.tv. An All-Access pass, available for $59.95, gives fans the opportunity to watch all the live coverage of various UMBC home athletic events. Single-game subscriptions for all live events will also be available throughout the season for $5.95.